Coles Variety Stores was founded in 1914 by George Coles when he opened a store in Smith Street, Collingwood, a Melbourne suburb. The expanding chain of stores stressed value for the shopper, with the slogan 'Nothing over 2/6'.

Coles was run in succession by members of the Coles family from 1914 until the mid-1970s. The 'famous five knights', Sir George, Sir Arthur, Sir Edgar, Sir Kenneth and Sir Norman, were known by their first initials, GJ, AW, EB, KF, NC.

In 1960, the first supermarket was opened in the Melbourne suburb of North Balwyn and in 1973, a Coles store had been established in all capital cities of the country.

Coles merged in 1985 with Myer Emporium to form Coles Myer Limited. In 2006 the Myer stores were sold, and in 2007 the Coles Group was purchased by Wesfarmers.

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